Text Message Marketing Startup Emotive Lays Off 18% of Staff
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Text Message Marketing Startup Emotive Lays Off 18% of Staff

Marketing startup Emotive laid off 30 people this week as the outlook on the economy continues to sour.

CEO Brian Zatulove said that 18% of the Sawtelle-based company’s roughly 167-strong workforce was cut, adding in an email statement that the layoffs are part of a larger plan to generate lasting revenue.

“Over the last three years, software investors have favored growth over profitability. Given the shift over the last 6 months amid the drawdown in public [software-as-a-service] valuations, we made the decision to get on a path to profitability,” Zatulove said. “Despite all of this, we think it’s critical for the business to have a clear path to becoming profitable, with infinite runway, given the uncertain economic climate & future [and] we are now on that path” following layoffs."

Zatulove didn’t immediately clarify which positions in the company had been cut.

Two former Emotive staffers posted about their job losses on LinkedIn, including a one-time, L.A.-based senior technical recruiter who’d started working there last January and an ex-customer onboarding specialist who’d worked there for roughly a year. The two didn’t return requests for comment.

Emotive is now at least the second SMS marketing company in Los Angeles to undergo layoffs in recent months. The other was Voyage, which laid off roughly 10% of its staff in June. Still, Zatulove pushed back on the idea that the layoffs at Emotive had anything to do with a larger market trends.

While he acknowledged software stocks are taking a beating, Zatulove said, “our decision to reduce actually has nothing to do with any broader ecommerce trends. Consumer spending is still healthy from what we're seeing.”

Emotive’s core product is a marketing platform that uses artificial intelligence and human analysis to reach out to customers who use Shopify and other ecommerce sites by text, encouraging them to buy products. The business is looking to expand into other areas as well. It launched a conversational advertising platform called Emotive Ads this year and is working on a tool that allows shoppers to make payments through SMS.

“In terms of where we are headed, nothing changes strategically,” Zatulove told dot.LA. “We’re going to keep investing there alongside the core SMS product,” adding that “the business has grown 3x over the last 24 months. We’re coming off a strong quarter.”

In February 2021, the company raised a $50 million Series B funding round. Zatulove said the company’s raised $103 million since its 2018 launch, which breaks down to $78 million in equity and $25 million in debt.

In announcing the raise last year, Emotive said its plans were to use part of that funding to triple its workforce and opened satellite offices in Boston and Atlanta.

“In our view, the best-positioned companies in any broader downturn are the profitable ones. The ones that own their destiny,” Zatulove said. “We’ve positioned ourselves financially to control our destiny and be secure throughout this uncertain time in history.”

This is a developing story. Have a tip? Contact Samson Amore at samsonamore@dot.LA or on Signal at (401).287.5543.

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David Shultz

David Shultz reports on clean technology and electric vehicles, among other industries, for dot.LA. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, Outside, Nautilus and many other publications.